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The Year That Was 1953

The following is taken verbatim from 439 Squadron archives.  Rank and decoration are those  held by the individuals at the time of writing. Background details, with rare exception are very scarce, so fresh input is always welcomed. 


Feb. 9 - 15. A poor week for flying with lots of bad weather. A lecture was given on G-suits and also an intelligence lecture by F/L Davies on Indo-China. F/O's Wheeler, Sills, Fitzgerald and Everard left on leave for the continent. F/O Pappas lost starboard wheel on landing, but did only minor damage to the aircraft.

Feb. 16 - 22. Another poor week due to bad weather. On Wednesday, F/O's Pappas, Jennett, and Raymond on different flights had their aircraft refuse to lift from the runway. All managed to stop but both brakes and tires in all cases were damaged. An inquiry was started into the failure of these aircraft to lift. On Friday. F/O's Smiley, Fowler, and Hamilton were diverted to other bases by bad weather. Week?end stand-down. 

Feb. 23 - Mar 1. For a change, good weather let us get some flying time in, the best day being Thursday with 43 hours, 50 minutes. It looks like spring has arrived. No flying on Wednesday. Everybody attended an Escape and Evasion lecture. Week-end stand-down.

Mar. 2 - 8. Spring has left. On Wednesday we made 5 hours, 45 minutes, which comprised the week's total. Fog was the big bugbear. On Monday, W/C Lindsay gave a lecture on Korea. F/O Wilkinson departed for Ely to have his tonsils removed. In the latter part of the week, lectures were given on harmonization, meteorology, and the forthcoming escape and evasion exercise. S/L Bricker returned to the Squadron following his second major operation within a year. F/L Bliss departed on two weeks leave prior to going to Korea. Weekend stand-down. 

Mar 9 - 15. A fairly good week of flying, with a number of air-to-air firing sorties being carried out. On Tuesday 439 Squadron participated in operation "Jig Saw" an air interception exercise. Two films were shown on escape and evasion on Wednesday. Thursday F/O Reucker returned from Canada with his new bride. Weekend stand-down.

Mar 16 - 22. Three days suitable for flying this week. Air to ground firing was carried out at the new range at Tichwell on Tuesdays The Squadron was given a lecture on the new Air-Sea Rescue Unit operated by the RAF. On Wednesday we became film stars when Fox Movietone News visited the Squadron and made some air-to-air shots. F/O Mike Bradley a new pilot reported in from the OTU on Thursday. Friday evening 439 Squadron entertained the officers of 1 (F) Wing at an open house in the Officers Mess from 1700 to 1900 hours. Casualties consisted of P/O Wilkinson who required three stitches over his right eye, and F/O Gildner who suffered a sprained ankle. Gifts were presented to F/L Bliss who is leaving for Korea soon. The fly past over Manchester scheduled for Saturday was cancelled due to weather. Squadron stood down for week-end as of 1000 hours Saturday.

Mar 23 - 29. Weather fairly good for the last week of March, with some fog and industrial haze. On Tuesday F/O Wheeler missed the runway on landing and damaged the undercarriage on aircraft 19204. Lecture and aircraft recognition slides given on Wednesday, with a limited amber of air to air firing being carried out on Thursday. F/O Bedard and F/O Wilkinson were involved in a collision on Friday during take-off, causing extensive damage to aircraft 19191 and minor damage to aircraft 19196. Neither pilot were injured on Saturday. Canada's secret war weapon, F/L Bliss, left for Korea. The Manchester fly past was again cancelled on Saturday and Sunday due to rain. 

Mar 30 - Apr 5. The Manchester fly past practice was held on Monday and real thing successfully carried out on Wednesday. F/O's Bedard, Wheeler and Wilkinson visited RAF hospital Ely for X-rays on Monday. On Wednesday S/L Coons lectured on the ears, nose and throat. 439 Squadron stood down for the Easter holiday from 3 Apr to the 5th inclusive.

Apr 6 - 12. Easter Monday stand-down. Air to air firing carried out this week. On Tuesday F/O Smiley's aircraft refused to leave the ground and take-off was aborted with the aircraft veering off the runway. Rehearsal for the Coronation fly past was held on Friday. Week-end stand-down. 

Apr 13 - 19. Weather good for this period with a fair amount of flying taking place, consisting of air-to-air firing; interceptions and practice for Coronation fly past. Week-end stand-down.

Apr 20 - 26. Flying this week consisted mainly of air to ground sorties being carried out at Tichwell range, and further practices for the Coronation fly past. A practice dinghy drill was held in the swimming pool at Leicester on Wednesday afternoon. On the week-end eighteen pilots participated in an escape and evasion exercise held in the vicinity of Nottingham. Only six were successful in evading capture and reaching their destination. The remainder were captured and held in various jails. It was a very tough exercise and the pilots had the following day off to rest their weary bones. 

Apr 27 - May 3. A new pilot, F/O Jerry Kerr has arrived on the Squadron. The weeks flying consisted of bomber affiliation, cine work, and air-to-air firing. On Wednesday "A" Flight visited the Armstrong ? Seddeley plant and were treated to a luncheon there. On Friday, F/O Hamilton had a flameout over Skegness at thirty six thousand feet. After two attempts a successful re-light was carried out at twelve thousand feet. A good show on the pilot's part and tends to build up our confidence in the re-start of the Sabre in the air. Week-end stand-down.

May 4 - 10. Flying this week consisted of sine work, GCA's (ground radar controlled approaches), sector recce, and practices for the Coronation fly past. On Tuesday the officers were defeated by the airmen in a baseball game five to three. A Squadron party was held that night with lots of beer and a good steak dinner. On Wednesday "B" Flight defeated "A" Flight in a baseball game. A lecture given on intelligence on Friday by F/L Davies. Week-end stand-down.

May 11 - 17. An interesting week of flying for 439 Squadron. Monday F/O Sills acted as Range Safety Officer at Tichwell range. A total of 16 sorties flown with F/O Fitzgerald taking the honours for the day with 66%. Tuesday afternoon the Coronation fly past practice was successfully carried out, led by W/C Lindsay. Rat and Terrier exercise carried out in the evening. No pilot of 439 intercepted. Wednesday morning lecture given by S/L Coons on bail-out procedure on the Sabre aircraft, with afternoon dinghy drill held at Northampton. S/L Bricker and F/O Fowler left for London for a four-day period of lectures on current events. Thursday and the pilots cleaning aircraft in preparation for the coming visit of the Duke of Edinburgh. Twelve aircraft scrambled on Friday for a fly past for A/V/M Atcherley who was supposed to be the Duke of Edinburgh. Due to rain and poor visibility the A/V/M returned to base without landing. The week-end flying consisted of Rat Terrier exercises and interceptions being carried out. 439 has some real Aces by the number of claimed kills.

May 18 - 24. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were three days of intensive clean-up and painting of the aircraft and flight room, with two more practice fly pasts led by W/C Lindsay in preparation for the Duke of Edinburgh visit. On Thursday the Duke of Edinburgh arrived. A fine show both in the air and on the ground was witnessed by the dependants of station personnel who were seated in front of the tower. A cocktail party and luncheon was held afterwards in the Officers Mess. Friday the Squadron stood down at noon and for the coming weekend. 

May 25 - 30. Monday being Whitsun all Squadron personnel stood down. Air to air cine exercises carried out a Tuesday. One of the Squadron aircraft developed aileron trouble while being flown by W/C Lindsay and was successfully force landed at Bentwaters, causing only minor damage. No flying Wednesday, but pilots played baseball in the morning and attended lectures in the afternoon on geo-politics and current affairs. Lectures being given by professor on the staff of the University of Montreal. Thursday and the low level beat up of American drones carried out. W/C Lindsay led the Squadron an Friday on a Coronation fly past practice. Promotion exam results arrived with F/O's Everard, Seitz, Hamilton, Jennett, Chessman and Fowler passing, while F/O's Mackeracher, Sills, Pappas, Hannah and Smiley have one supplementary to write. All other pilots writing again next year. Week-end stand-down.

Jun 1 - 7. Monday and all flying washed out for the day due to weather. Rain again on Tuesday, Coronation Day, and a strong possibility of the fly past being cancelled. Aircraft finally cleared by command for take-off in the late afternoon. The bad weather pattern, as planned earlier, was carried out over Buckingham palace. From ground reports the formation flown was quite good on the final run. Pilots stood-down on Wednesday and back to normal flying on Thursday consisting of cine, instruments and practice interception trips. One trip flown Friday by F/L Wenz practicing for the RAF review at Odiham. Week-end stand-down.

Jun 8 - 14. A normal week of flying with a fair amount of cloud time being logged by each pilot. Trips for the week consisted of cine and practice interceptions, nav trips to the continent and return were flown by F/L Wenz and F/O's Kerr, Jennett, Reischman, Hamilton, Fitzgerald and Everard. The nose door on 203 was damaged by F/O Pappas while in the circuit on Monday. On Wednesday F/O Bedard blew the tires on aircraft 196 while aborting take-off when his Sabre failed to leave the ground. June the eleventh and 439 took over Fabulous for the RAF Squadron on duty who were sacked in. No Fabulous trips were flown. Sunday stand-down .

Jun 15 - 21. A full week of flying with weather cutting the hours at first. Normal trips were flown with six of our aircraft going to Bristol for weight check. Fly pact practices and air to air firing also carried out. Thursday saw the usual low level beat-up of American air drones. Friday F/Os Smiley, Cheesman, Seitz and Raymond off on a trip to Furstenfelbruck, returning Sunday. Weekend flying consisted of Rat and Terrier exercises with 439 acting as both, and logging a fair number of hours. 

Jun 22 - 28. Squadron stood down on Jun 22. June 23 and no flying in the morning with trips in the afternoon consisting of practice interceptions, cine, and a practice for the Odiham fly paste. F/O Ray Bedard was on an exercise with F/O's Fowler and Wilkinson when he became separated from them and no R/T contact could be made. Later in the day a call was received that a Sabre had crashed near Boston, and investigation proved it to belong to 439. It was hoped that F/O Bedard had ejected from the aircraft, but further investigation proved that he had crashed with his Sabre. Wednesday and all flying washed out due to fog. Lectures attended by the pilots in the morning and an informal Mass held in the RC chapel in the afternoon. Thursday and cine work carried out on new type drogue, with the Odiham fly past practice being carried out in the afternoon, and Rat and Terrier flying in the evening. Funeral services were held for F/O Bedard Friday morning from the RC chapel with internment in the Exton cemetery All pilots of 439 attending to pay their last respects to their late comrade. A further Odiham fly past practice was held in the afternoon. Week-end stand-down.

Jun 29 - Jul 5. A poor period of flying for 439. Two Odiham fly past practices held. All other flying cancelled for the week due to fog. Lectures given by Mr. Fairbanks on the gun-sight, radar and armament equipment. Films shown on flying safety. Squadron stood down at 1500 hours Friday for the coming week-end. 

Jul 6 - 12. Squadron stood down on Monday and commenced the weeks flying an Tuesday. Two more Odiham fly past practices were held. Jul 8 the new OC of 439, S/L Belleau reported in to replace S/L Bricker who in posted back to Canada. The regular beat up of American airdrome took place on Thursday, Squadron stood down on Friday for the coming week-end.

Jul 13 - 17. Odiham fly past practice held Monday morning, with a farewell party held in the Officers' Mess in the afternoon for S/L Bricker. Sector recce flown Tuesday by F/L Wenz and S/L Belleau. The Odiham fly past was carried out on Wednesday with great success. Squadron stood down on Thursday and Friday. 

Jul 18 - 26. 439 Squadron took over the duties of Fabulous commencing on the 18th and for the coming week. S/L Belleau took off with nose plug in the aircraft. On landing the runway was overshot, resulting in a "D" category crash. On the 19th F/L Wenz did an acrobatic show for visiting Air Cadets with 439 pilots doing a tail chase show for members of the British Electric Co. Remainder of the weeks flying consisted of Fab scrambles, and affiliation with a Neptune (anti-submarine patrol aircraft) low level over the North Sea, plus an Army co-op beat up. An escort flight was flown to the North Star (military transport aircraft) carrying S/L Bricker back to Canada. A week-and Rat and Terrier exercise was held, terminating a good week of flying.

Jul 27 - Aug 3. Exercise Coronet commenced on July 27 with aircraft of 1 (F) Wing flying high level trips to Furstenfelbruck to be intercepted by aircraft based on the Continent. F/O Raymond landed at Furstenfelbruck when drop tanks failed to feed. Capt. Frychland of the Swedish Air Force, attached to the Squadron for conversion, flew two trips on 28 Jul. F/A Wenz and F/O Fowler did the USAF beat-up on the 29th. Last trips on exercise Coronet carried out on the 30th with few good interceptions taking place. Squadron stood down from Jul 31 to Aug 3 for the August Bank Holiday. 

Aug 4 - 8. Exercises for the week comprised mainly of air-to-air firing, weather permitting. 439 Squadron has moved out to dispersal in readiness for the commencement of exercise Momentum. On the afternoon of 6 Aug F/O Wilkinson struck a runway light on take-off resulting in a gaping hole in aircraft 19139. Pilot successfully landed aircraft without further damage. Squadron stood down on 8 Aug.

Aug 9 - 23. Regular flying carried out Sunday morning of the 9th with Rat and Terriers being carried out in the afternoon. Normal flying including air firing carried out for the 10th, 11th , and 12th . "The Acromaids", led by F/L Wenz and consisting of F/O's Wingate, Hamilton and Pappas were formed, and have been practicing formation aerobatics in preparation for the coming Air Force Day. 439 briefed on exercise "Momentum" on the 13th and did a surprise scramble at 2040 hrs on the 14th. Momentum patrols flown on the 15th and 16th. F/L Wenz and F/O Wingate had a mid-air collision when they both attacked an F-84 (Sabre) on the 15th. . Slight damage to both aircraft but neither pilot injured. August 17th to 18th normal flying in the morning with afternoon stand-down. Back flying sorties on Momentum for the 18th with 50 sorties being flown. August 20th normal flying day. On the 21st 439 Squadron moved by surprise to Horsham St Faith for remainder of Momentum. Ground-crew travelling by bus and pilots ferrying the aircraft. August 22nd saw a full day of Momentum scrambles out of Horsham giving 46 hours and 56 minutes for the days flying. Minor damage caused to 19195 when F/O Cheesman forced to land with the nose wheel in the up position. August 23rd, last day of Momentum, F/O Pappas forced to land at West Raynham due to weather. 439 compelled to remain for the night at Horsham unable to return to North Luffenham due to very low ceilings and restricted visibility.

Aug 24 - 30. 439 Squadron returned to Luffenham on the 24th and held a small party in the Officers Mess to celebrate the end of exercise "Momentum". Squadron stood down for the 25th. Furniture moved from dispersal back to the pilots' room. Remainder of weeks flying composed of air to air firing. Beat-up of American airdromes held on the 27th. F/O Fowler damaged the tail pipe on aircraft 19166 during a heavy landing on the 28th. Squadron stood down for the week-end.

Aug 31 - Sep 6. Air to Air firing carried out on the 31st plus a bomber affiliation with attacks on a B50 and a Lincoln aircraft. The new Commanding Officer, G/C Somerville did a local trip on Sep 1st. F/O Doug Fraser reported in to the Squadron and did a recce trip in the afternoon. F/L Henry and Lt. Mead with the Navy, attending test pilots school at Farnborough, reported to the Squadron for a refresher course on the Sabre on Sep 2nd . Air Firing carried out on Sep 3 in order to check radar lock-on and unlock on a new type drogue. A low level beat-up of an army camp in the Stamford area plus PI's (practice intercepts), QGH's (????) and GCA's carried out on the 4th. Week-end stand-down.

Sep 7 - 13. Labour Day stand-down with only a skeleton crew on for flying. One trip flown for radar calibration for the new GCI centre at Trimmingham, plus practice fly past for the Battle of Britain. Sep 8, 9 and 10 good flying weather with all type of exercises being carried out on the 10th. While air firing, F/O Fraser shot four holes in the tow ship, flown by F/O Fitzgerald. A normal landing was made, and an inquiry will be held however, to determine the cause of the incident. On Sep 11, F/L Bliss resumed Squadron flying after returning from Korea where he flew 31 sorties with the Americans. Some valuable "gen" should be learned by the Squadron from his experiences. A fly past was carried out over the GCI station at Langtoft plus a further practice for the Battle of Britain fly past. Squadron stood-down Friday for the weekend. 

Sep 14 - 18. A further fly past practice held on the 14th with the final Battle of Britain fly past successfully flown over the Whitehall in London on the 15th . Weather down on the 16th with only one trip, flown by the Acromaids, who are becoming very proficient. Pilots stood down at 1300 hours and took up sports for the afternoon. Lakenheath and Sculthorpe were the American dromes (airfields or aero-dromes) that were beat-up by 439 on the 17th. Personnel at Sculthorpe took an hour off, when attacked, to watch the shows which it is hoped they enjoyed. The 18th was spent cleaning up the aircraft for the 19th, which is Air Force Day. Aircraft were flown to London airport and RAF Station Pembrey by F/O Raymond and F/O Reichman for static display. F/L Bliss carried out two local trips in preparation of leading the fly past over the station on Air Force Day. The Acromaids did a final brush-up trip. All is ready for the big day. 

Sep 19. Air Force Day at RCAF Station North Luffenham, with an estimated 35,000 people in attendance to see the Canadians at home. F/L Bliss, with F/O's Wilkinson, Fowler and Cheesman did the Wing fly past. F/L Wenz with F/Os Hamilton, Wingate and Pappas otherwise known as the Acromaids, but on a good show of formation aerobatics. F/Os Smiley and Hannah answered questions on the Sabre in number two hanger. The highlight of the day was the visit of Gary Cooper, the well-known movie star, who arrived from London airport by Expeditor. A rather hairy-entrance was made when the Expeditor almost did a ground loop and roll on landing. A dance was held in the Officers' Mess in the evening, which turned out to be one of the best of the season.

Sep 20 - 26. Squadron stood down for Sunday, and back to normal flying for the week with weather providing some good instrument time. F/O Smiley received a posting to 4 (F) Wing as Assistant Adjutant, and flew a trip to Germany to obtain leave, returning on Tuesday. A lecture given Tuesday afternoon on aviation medicine by S/L Coons. Wednesday devoted to lectures on technical, armament and intelligence, followed by a ball game with the airman, which the pilots lost, after a sterling duel (8 - 6). Air-to-Air sorties flown on the 24th. Calibration checks were called for by a new GCI station "Washie". Trips were flown to Holland and return at 40,000 feet. The aircraft doing the tests, landed at Horsham to refuel. Postings arrived on the 25th with F/Os Fowler, Sills, Fitzgerald, Raymond and Cheesman posted to the new Ferry Flight to be formed in Canada. F/O Reischman posted to 438 Reserve Squadron at Montreal, F/O Wilkinson to 401 Reserve Squadron also at Montreal, F/O Pappas posted to 400 Reserve Squadron Toronto, and F/O Mackeracher to 1 OTU at Chatham, New Brunswick. 439 now have more aircraft than pilots. Only four trips flown on 25th due to weather. Saturday 26th a stand-down from normal flying with the exception of the Acromaids who did a show at Standstead for the Royal Air Force Association who are having an Air Force Day.


Sep 27 - Oct 4. Sunday Rat and Terrier exercise carried out with twelve sorties flown. The pilots also attended a film on Korea shown in the intelligence room. On Tuesday W/C Lindsay lead the RCAF Sabres against the Meteors of the Day Fighter Leader School, with each pilot claiming at least two Meteors but with very little film taken to back up their claims. Exercise Mariner held on 29th with 439 aircraft held for a scramble, which never came. The exercise was aborted and cine at 40,000 feet under GCI was carried out. That evening a farewell party was held for F/Os Gildner, Smiley, Cheesman, Fowler and the Canadian General Electric Representative Mr. Vic Carswell, in the TV room of the Officers' Mess. Each presented with a model Sabre. Wednesday stand-down with the pilots attending dinghy drill at Northampton, Afternoon mess meeting held with new officers elected. That all round athlete F/L Bliss elected the now sports officers. An army co-op trip scheduled far Oct 1st was a flop, due to R/T failures. Twelve air to air sorties flown, S/L McCarthy-Jones of RAF Station North Weald with the Squadron for check out on the Sabres . After two trips he thought it was quite a treat. F/O's Reischman and Wilkinson flew to Metz and Zweibrucken and return on Oct 2nd. Ten air-to-air sorties flown and S/L Jones did another two trips to end the weeks flying. Week-and stand-down.

Oct 5 - 12. F/O Pappas returned Monday from RAF Station Turnhouse where he had been demonstrating the ejection seat in the Sabre. Normal trips flown on Monday, and Tuesday. No air-to-air trips flown due to weather conditions over the North Sea. Lectures given Wednesday morning on Aviation Medicine and Intelligence with the remainder of the morning spent with the pilots trying their skill at skeet shooting. Oct 8th was full days flying, including the American Airfield beat-up. F/Os Hughes and Campbell of 444 (F) Squadron are with 439 on temporary duty practising towing the drogue, as their Squadron will be coming over to North Luffenham for air to air firing. General flying plus a practice trip by the Acromaids on the 9th. Air to air firing was started but not carried out when the aircraft became unserviceable, and F/O Pappas shot away the flag. 439 stood down for the Thanksgiving week-end on the 10th, 11th and l2th.

Oct 13 - 16. Nil flying on the 13th due to duff weather. Morning spent attending lectures and stood down at 1400 hours. A Squadron party held that evening in the Officers' Mess, including a delicious dinner. Afterwards the OC's wife, Mrs. Belleau entertained the officers by her piano playing including a singsong, making a perfect evening. Pilots spent Wednesday morning skeet shooting until F/O Wingate accidentally shot the airman who was setting the traps. The MO (Medical Officer) extracted 41 pellets from the chaps face and said he would be OK. Squadron stood down for afternoon sports. Thursday and Friday two days of general flying on air-to-air firing, cross country navigation, aerobatics, cine, and air tests with the Squadron stood down Friday at 1300 hours.

Oct 17 - 25. Monday, Oct 17th the first day of Fabulous, but pilots held on the ground from 0530 to 1800 hours due to heavy fog. Four trips carried out on the 18th, two on Fab scrambles and two on PI's, fog again holding the aircraft on the ground. Nil Fab trips on the 19th and 20th due to fog but same local flying and one air to air sortie flown. G/C Somerville visited the flight the morning of the 21st and was shown some of our cine films. A CO's parade held in the afternoon, the middle of which we had a Fab scramble. Scrambles, cine and instrument flying carried out all day of the 22nd. Some one painted a skull and crossbones on the Squadron flag, and suspicion rests on the character from 4 Wing who is at Luff doing air firing. No flying on the morning of the 24th, with limited flying in the afternoon. Revenge, however, is sweet, for on arriving at work; an F-86 belonging to 4 Wing could be noticed in front of dispersal with a most unusual paint job. Blame was placed on 410, and it could not happen to a nicer bunch of chaps. Squadron stood down for the week-end.

Oct 26 - Nov 1. Weather foggy but lifted sufficiently by 1000 hours to allow F/O Reischman to ferry 19190 to Horsham for a static display, returning with F/L Menz in the Expeditor. F/Os Kerr and Wingate with pilots of 410 and 441 were on an army show on the Salisbury Plains. Six guns were used which put on an impressive show. Cine and air-to-air firing also flown for the days-flying. Another Army show on the 27th with tracers being used on a row of Spitfires parked on the ground. An air show was put on in front of the tower for visiting personnel from Langtoft, the local GCI Control Centre. Regular flying carried out for the remainder of the day. Wednesday lectures and films attended by the pilots of 439 with F/O's Kerr, Bradley and Fraser visited the Triumph Auto Works in Coventry. Stand-down called at 1500 hours for the purpose of attending the Officers' Mess meeting. A group exercise held on Oct 29th with our fighters scrambled to intercept raiders coming in over the North Sea. Exercise cancelled at 1430 hours, with a normal flying program for the remainder of the day. Two now pilots, F/O's Rozdaba and Moore reported in from the Chatham OTU. Flying washed out on the 30th until afternoon, and only limited flying there after on GCA's and instrument practice. Squadron stood dawn for the week-end.

Nov 2 - 8. F/Os Wingate and Kerr flew to RAF Station Defford on Monday to fly on targets for the calibration of their radar equipment. F/O Bradley went to Horsham, and returned with aircraft 19190. F/L Wenz flew F/O Ruecker to 3 Wing in the Expeditor to attend the next instrument course. General flying carried out for the rest of the day. F/Os Rozdaba and Moore checked out on the 3rd, and air-to-air trips flown for the rest of the day with G/C Somerville scoring one hit. Expeditor returned from 3 (F) Wing with F/L Bliss who successfully completed the instrument course. On the 4th, F/O Hannah flew to Defford to replace F/O Wingate who will be flying with the Acromaids for the coming visit of A/V/M Campbell. Flight room cleaned and polished in preparation of the A/V/M's visit. The Acromaids did the fly past for the visiting A/V/M Campbell on Nov 5th. Afterwards a cocktail party held in the Officers' Mess. Limited flying in the afternoon with a small party held in the evening for F/O Reichman who is returning to Canada. Normal flying on the 6th, with F/Os Hannah and Kerr returning from Defford. A Squadron party held in the NAAFI building to say farewell to F/Os Pappas, Wilkinson and Mackeracher, who were presented with a model Sabre each. Squadron stood down for the week-end.

Nov 9 - 15. Weather down on Monday morning with cine exercises flown in the afternoon. Air to air firing on the 10th which ceased at 1445 hours to enable the ground crew to do DI's (Daily Inspection) in preparation for the Sector Exercise on Thursday. Station stood down Nov 11th for Remembrance Day. Sector exercise flown all day of the 12th with twenty-eight sorties being flown. Few interceptions completed due to GCI below their usual high standard. Normal flying on Friday, with four new pilots, F/O Hallee, Martin, Tracey and Morrison reporting in. Week-end stand-down.

Nov 16 - 22. F/Os Ryan and McLeod reported in Monday from Chatham. Twelve sorties flown on attempted air-to-air firing, eleven of which were aborted due to weather. Nil flying Tuesday and Wednesday due to fog, with the pilots attending lectures and films. Weather good on Thursday with Battle Formation trips being flown. F/L McInnes of the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) checked out on the Sabre. He did a sonic boom in the local area but missed the field. The new pilot spent the day at Sector Headquarters at Bawburgh. Sector recce's flown by the new pilot on Friday with F/O Hallee blowing both tires on landing. PI's flown over the weekend for the benefit of the weekend GCI operator.

Nov 23 - 29. Weather OXD for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A beer bust held Monday, which ended up in quite a good party with all the regular horseplay. Lectures, aircraft recognition, and examinations on the gun-sight held during the three days. F/O Hannah went to London on Thursday to check the new Redifon simulator. Flying for the day consisted of formation trips, DFLS scrambles, and instrument flying. Full days flying on Friday, with F/O Kerr doing formation aeros with F/O Wingate. F/O Kerr will be taking over the slot position with the Acromaids. Squadron stood down for the weekend.

Nov 30 - Dec 6. Sector recces flown plus bomber affiliation trips on Monday. F/O Seitz an original member of 439 and instructor with Instrument Rating Flight at Zweibrucken, flew with the Squadron before leaving for Canada within the next three days. A full flying day plus four dusk cross-countries on Tuesday. F/L Wenz off to Stiffhey Range on investigation involving 441 aircraft. Cine trips flown Wednesday morning and dinghy drill held in the Northampton pool in the afternoon. Acromaids did two practice trips in preparation for the coming visit of Hon Brooke Claxton (Canadian Cabinet Minister). Air to air firing carried out on Thursday. Tracer ammunition used for the first time to enable the pilots to have a better idea of where the bullets are going. Weather down on Friday resulting in F/O's Ruecker and Tracy being diverted to Manston. F/Os Wingate, Kerr, Jennett and Rozdaba did a fast take-off for Copenhagen for the week-end, just beating the lowering ceiling. The Sabres were followed to Copenhagen by the Expeditor, flown by F/Ls Bliss and Gilles with F/O Gregory and three airmen as passengers. The remainder of the Squadron stood-down for the coming week-end.

Dee 7 - 13. Weather duff on Monday. The section still in Copenhagen. AOC Fighter Command invested eligible personnel with Coronation Medal. Pilots stood-down in afternoon. Tuesday and weather still duff. Four instrument trips flown. The die-hards still in Copenhagen. Weather duff again on Wednesday. Pilots attended lectures and films with dinghy drill in the afternoon. Thursday and weather still down to zero, lecture given by W/C Lindsay on tactics and aircraft recognition exam held in the afternoon. The boys in Copenhagen will be running out of money and clean sheets by now. Weather cleared for flying Friday. The boys from Copenhagen finally returned and have lots of stories on "Wonderful Copenhagen". Squadron stood down for the week-end.

Dec 14 - 20. Monday and weather duff. The pilots given a one-hour lecture in preparation for the coming promotion exams. Intelligence lecture attended and movies shown in the afternoon. Stood down at 1500 hours. On the 15th, 439 in the air at 1000 hrs after ground fog dissipated. Interceptions and air firing sorties flown for the days flying. Practice parade held the morning of the 16th in preparation for the coming visit of the Honourable Brooke Claxton. Flying commenced 1100 hours with GCI and P.I. sorties flown. F/O Tracey was killed when 19137 crashed near Loughborough. S/L Belleau and F/L Wenz proceeded to the scene of the crash in the afternoon. Pilots stood down. Weather foggy morning of the 17th with Honourable Brooke Claxton holding investiture parade. F/L Wenz and F/O Wingate received the Coronation Medal. Pilots ant ground-crew stood own in the afternoon. We seen to be getting lots of the English weather with fog again on the 18th . Pilots spent two hours watching films and one hour on aircraft recognition. F/L Wenz at Loughborough on inquest of F/O Tracey's accident. Squadron stood down at 1430 hours for the following week-end.

Dec 21 - 27. A practice funeral parade held on the morning of the 21st. F/O Tracey's funeral held in the afternoon with all pilots paying their respects to their late comrade. Pilots stood down for the remainder of the day. Flying commenced 0825 hours on the 22nd . F/O Fraser had a mid air collision with F/O Rozdaba while letting down through cloud. Only slight damage caused. Airmanship lecture given by W/C Lindsay. Flying ceased at 1435 hours, Mess meeting at 1600 hours. Flying for 23rd and 24th consisted of cine, practice forced landings, GCA's and low flying. Squadron Christmas party held in the afternoon of the 23rd. Flying ceased 1445 hrs on the 24th. Squadron stood down for the Christmas period, December 25, 26 and 27.

Dec 28 - 31. Everyone back from their Christmas leave and in surprisingly good health. W/C Lindsay, S/L Belleau, F/O MacLeod and F/O Moore flew to 3 Wing in the morning of the 28th, returning in the afternoon. G/C Somerville flew one local trip. Remainder of the flying for the day consisted of QGH's, GCA's and forced landings. One-hour lecture on accident prevention ended the day's activities. One air-to-air trip flown on the 29th plus miscellaneous trips. F/L Wenz and F/O Gillies did one trip after dusk practising night landings. Weather dawn on the 30th with pilots making up logbooks and attending lectures. Weather good for the last flying day of 1953, aeros, QGH's, GCAs, forced landings and sector recce's flown. Fifty three has been a good year at Luff., and all looking forward to Fifty Four.

Copyright 1998 - 2005 Michael T. Melnick. All rights reserved.

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